At What Age Should Children Learn Yoga?
Q: The question is more for my daughter, who is nine right now. Should I be introducing her to yoga at this age so that she can prepare herself to get drawn to her path as soon as possible?
Sadhguru: Yoga is not something that takes you away from life. This is something that gives you profound traction with life. So tell me, when is the time to start? At sixty or at the earliest possible time?
Seven years is generally considered a good age, but you have waited till nine. So, it is time to start, because it is important that a child is offered many things and that they are able to make an intelligent choice about them. If you do not give them these options, they are being brainwashed to believe that what they are exposed to is all there is in the world. The choice is only between soft drinks and pizza, nothing else!
It is very important that early in life, a child gets exposed to the right things, things that work from within because arrangements we make in the world around us can only be managed to a certain extent. As long as your wellbeing is subject to and enslaved to external situation, you being well is going to be accidental because nobody has 100% control over the outside situations. And the way population is increasing, we do not know what kind of external arrangements the next generation will be able to make. By 2050, we are expected to be 9.6 billion. I do not want to be around, but your daughter will be around, so she will have to have some special skills of survival. It is not going to be easy at all.
Just imagine 35% more people in the same space – visualize the experience. If you have to really sit close, at least you must know yoga because you can twist yourself whichever way and be comfortable in any posture! There will not be much choice about postures.
I hope yoga becomes a part of our education system. This year, as part of Isha’s International Yoga Day activities, we set forth initiatives that are bringing simple yet powerful yogic practices to 30 million children in 25,000 schools in India.
What Kind of Yoga Should Children Learn?
Q: Is there any particular yoga for kids?
Sadhguru: There are simple forms of yoga that children can do after six or seven years of age. But it is very important that certain practices are not taught to them. I see in some places that children are taught padmasana. This should not be done. When the bones are still growing and tender, sitting in postures that put a certain amount of stress on the skeletal system can make their bones bend.
People who transmit yoga must know what is suitable for a child. Yoga is taught according to the requirements and situations of each individual. Not everything that is taught to adults should be taught to children. Even among adults, if you are in family situations, we teach one kind of yoga. An ascetic learns yoga in a completely different way. It is very important that you do not do the same thing for everyone.
How Should Yoga Be Taught to Children?
Q: How do we introduce yoga to kids. How do we instill the thirst for yoga from an early age?
Sadhguru: There is something called Nada Yoga, which is the mastery of sounds. Nada yoga is the simplest and subtlest way for a child to begin. It will lead to wellbeing and the proper development of body and mind. There are also practices like Yoga Namaskar, which can be learnt even at six or seven years of age. There are also upa-yoga techniques , which both children and adults will find useful.
When they start seeing the benefits of these, when they see that this can set them apart in a group of people in terms of capability, they will naturally pursue higher forms of yoga. As they grow up, their yoga should also grow.
Editor’s Note: The free Isha Upa-Yoga Practices are available online and through apps at yogayoga.org. These 5-minute processes are easy-to-practice yet potent tools to enhance health, joy, peace, love, success and inner exploration.